Last week Huddersfield Town confirmed the signing of Egyptian starlet Ramadan Sobhi after agreeing a £5.7 million deal with recently relegated Stoke City.
The 21-year-old is considered to be one of the most exciting young prospects to emerge from African football over the last decade and he is the pin-up boy of Egyptian football alongside Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
However, Huddersfield have certainly not purchased the finished article and Sobhi has ultimately failed to live up to his reputation since arriving in the Premier League two years ago.
He signed for Stoke in the summer of 2016 from leading Egyptian side Al Ahly, then managed by former Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham manager Martin Jol, for a fee that was reportedly set to rise up to £5 million.
Sobhi had made his debut as a 16-year-old and had won two domestic titles, attracting the attention of a number of prominent clubs throughout Europe, and his arrival at the Bet365 Stadium was perceived as being something of a coup.
He was characterised as being a pacey winger who was intelligent, tricky and technically immaculate and it was assumed that his arrival would bring creativity and pace to Mark Hughes’ Stoke team.
But, despite making 41 Premier League appearances in his two years with The Potters, Sobhi never truly fulfilled his potential or lived up to his reputation.
There were glimpses of his talent and potential, but these moments of brilliance or innovation were often few and far between. He was frustrating to watch and his decision making, particularly in the final third of teh pitch, would leave supporters scratching their heads in confusion.
Sobhi would often beat a defender or create half a yard of space but then be unwilling to release the ball either via a pass, cross or shot. He would attempt to beat the same defender multiple times before delivering the ball into the box and there was a distinct lack of any end product or consistency.
Few would criticise the 21-year-old’s work ethic or attitude, but he is certainly a long way from being the finished article.
It could be argued that this is not entirely the fault of the player. In truth Sobhi was never truly given a run of starts in the first team with the vast majority of his appearances coming from the bench.
Furthermore, two years of playing in a poor Stoke team has visibly eroded his confidence and self-belief whilst Mark Hughes and his coaching staff undoubtedly failed to maximise his potential.
The young Egyptian joined a Stoke team that was in terminal decline – it may simply be the case that he was the right player at the wrong time.
What Sobhi needs now is a manager who will put an arm around his shoulder and who will invest the time to nurture and mould him into fulfilling his potential. The potential is there, it just needs to be allowed to flourish.
David Wagner may well be that man.
The German is widely respected as being one of the most talented young coaches in Europe and is renowned for his approach to man-management and being able to maximise the performances of his players. If Sobhi is to emerge as a genuine star in English football then Wagner will be the man capable of facilitating it.
Ultimately, Sobhi had a limited impact at Stoke and never really demonstrated his talent beyond a handful of infrequent flashes. It is probably the fault of all parties involved that his time at the Bet365 Stadium was not more productive and it would appear that his departure is mutually beneficial.
It is also important to recognise that the winger is still only 21 years of age.
His career is only just beginning and yet he has already made 26 international appearances for Egypt and proven himself in domestic football. There is still plenty of time for him to develop and improve whilst you would imagine that the best is yet to come from the youngster.
However, despite the continued hype, ultimately Sobhi still has everything to prove in English football and Hudderfield supporters will be hoping that their club is the right place for the Egyptian’s talent to flourish.